Stephen Dawson (politician)

Stephen Noel Dawson (born 30 July 1975) is an Australian politician who has been a Labor Party member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia since 2013, representing the Mining and Pastoral Region. He is the current Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy, Minister for Medical Research, Minister for Volunteering, and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council.

Stephen Dawson
Member of the Legislative Council
of Western Australia
Assumed office
22 May 2013
Serving with Baston, Boydell, Chapple, Grills, Lewis
ConstituencyMining and Pastoral
Personal details
Stephen Noel Dawson

(1975-07-30) 30 July 1975
Dublin, Ireland
Political partyLabor

Early life

Dawson was born in Dublin, Ireland. As a child, he attended a Gaelscoil (Irish Gaelic immersion school), with English being his second language. Dawson and his family immigrated to Australia in 1989, when he was thirteen, and settled in Perth, where he attended Hollywood Senior High School.[1] He went on to Edith Cowan University (ECU), graduating with a degree in education.[2] Before entering parliament, Dawson worked for periods as a lobbyist (with Hawker Britton) and corporate manager (with Essential Media Communications).[1][3] He also served for a time as chief of staff to David Templeman (a minister in the Carpenter government).[4]


At the 2005 state election, Dawson ran in the unwinnable sixth position on the Labor ticket in Mining and Pastoral Region.[5] In 2009, following the resignation of Alan Carpenter, he unsuccessfully contested the preselection process for the Willagee state by-election, losing out to Peter Tinley.[6] At the 2013 state election, Dawson was elected to the Legislative Council as the lead Labor candidate in Mining and Pastoral Region.[7] He became the first Irish-born MP in Western Australia since 1950, when Sir Norbert Keenan left office.[8] Dawson's term began in May 2013, and he was immediately elected deputy chairman of committees in the Legislative Council. In September 2013, he was added to Mark McGowan's shadow cabinet. After the landslide 2017 state election victory, Dawson was added to cabinet with responsibility for the environment and disability services.[9] On 13 December 2018, Dawson replaced Bill Johnston as Minister for Electoral Affairs as part of a minor cabinet reshuffle.[10] On 14 December 2022, he was named Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy, Minister for Medical Research, and Minister for Volunteering.[11]

Personal life

Dawson is openly gay. In December 2013, he and his partner, Dennis Liddelow, became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Australia. They had a midnight ceremony in Canberra, taking advantage of legislation passed by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).[12] However, their marriage was annulled six days later (along with all other same-sex marriages), due to the High Court's finding that the ACT legislation was in conflict with the federal Marriage Act 1961 and thus unconstitutional.[13]


  1. Hon Stephen Dawson, MLC (Member for Mining and Pastoral Region), Hansard (Legislative Council), 12 June 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  2. Stephen Noel Dawson, Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  3. "Port Hedland mayor to take on Grylls".
  4. "Willagee by-election".
  5. Green, Antony. "Western Australian election results 2005" (PDF). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  6. "Labor and Greens open pre-selections for Willagee", ABC News, 7 October 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  7. Hon. Stephen Noel Dawson MLC, Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  8. Irish born MPs, Parliamentary Library of Western Australia. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  9. "McGowan unveils Labor cabinet 'brimming with talent'". ABC News. 16 March 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  10. "Minor changes within McGowan Cabinet announced". Media Statements. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  11. "Premier unveils new team with a focus on renewal and experience". Premier of Western Australia. 14 December 2022. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  12. "Gay couple Stephen Dawson and Dennis Liddelow first to marry in ACT but how long will it last?",, 7 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  13. "High Court strikes down ACT's same-sex marriage laws",, 12 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
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